The Truth About Cars » Congress http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 21 Nov 2014 22:40:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Congress http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/congress-news-blog/ NHTSA, USDOT Demand National Recall Action From Takata, Automakers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/nhtsa-usdot-demand-national-recall-action-takata-automakers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/nhtsa-usdot-demand-national-recall-action-takata-automakers/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949217 While we were looking over the latest and greatest from the 2014 LA Auto Show, the Takata band played on. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation are both calling for a national recall of all vehicles with Takata’s airbags, citing a catastrophic failure of a module outside the high-humidity […]

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takata-corp

While we were looking over the latest and greatest from the 2014 LA Auto Show, the Takata band played on.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation are both calling for a national recall of all vehicles with Takata’s airbags, citing a catastrophic failure of a module outside the high-humidity zone previously established in an earlier recall.

The NHTSA also issued a General Order to the airbag supplier and 10 automakers — BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota — requiring all to submit documents regarding “completed, ongoing or planned testing” of the supplier’s inflators outside of the current recall zone, with the goal of having all involved come correct with the agency and the American public about what they all plan to do about the airbags. Takata alone received a Special Order, regarding the propellent used in its airbags.

Responses to both orders are due by December 5.

Three of the 10 automakers involved with the General Order — Ford, GM and Honda — may likely have the hardest time replacing Takata completely. Per Bloomberg, the trio worked closely with the supplier to develop special features for their vehicles — Ford’s Adaptive Steering system, GM’s front center airbags — features that would take a while to work out with a new supplier if a deeper relationship were to take hold.

Meanwhile, only 6 percent of the 8 million vehicles equipped with Takata’s airbags have been repaired thus far, a rate critics of the supplier and its client base find appalling. The pace isn’t likely to quicken, however; Toyota says it would take a year at minimum to test and replace its units with those from other suppliers, while Nissan said doing the same for itself wasn’t feasible.

Returning to the Beltway, Reuters reports Takata had presented documents to the NHTSA linked to a 2009 accident involving its airbags, only for the agency to decline, as it had closed its investigation on the supplier and Honda, whose vehicle was involved in said accident. The NHTSA informed the news agency that the documents “would not have added to the agency’s understanding of the issues involved in that particular investigation.”

Speaking of Honda, senior executive Rick Schostek admitted before Congress that his company failed to notify the NHTSA or its customer base about the issues with Takata’s airbags, promising to offer consumers a loaner if their affected vehicles are repaired quickly due to supply shortages. As for Takata’s Hiroshi Shimizu, Automotive News says he went on the defensive, going so far as to claim that it was “hard” for him to “answer yes or no” to several questions asked by the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, much to the dismay and bemusement of the committee members.

Prior to the call for a nationwide recall, the regional-specific actions, as well as the NHTSA’s order to consumers to have their airbags replaced immediately, contributed to public anxiety over whether or not the airbag before them would disfigure or kill in an accident. According to Bloomberg, Takata itself believes a national recall would only further exacerbate those fears, potentially diverting resources “from where they’re needed, putting lives at risk.”

Meanwhile, Reuters reports the Monclova, Mexico facility where the defective units were assembled had issues from the moment it opened its doors in 2000. Aside from the units made in 2001, 2002 and 2012, an explosion in 2006 — one some workers claim was fueled by the same ammonium nitrate used in Takata’s airbags as a propellent — jump-started a production run where quality slipped against hourly quotas. Whether the top brass knew of the problems, however, is a different story, as it never sent permanent staff to Mexico from its headquarters in Japan.

Over in Germany, BMW is working with the supplier to have its airbags made closer to home in Freiberg, transferring production from Mexico. The move only applies to BMW, who expects additional production to come online by mid-December. Alternative arrangements would take two years and “divert attention from current recall efforts,” per the automaker.

Finally, U.S. Air Force First Lieutenant Stephanie Erdman gave her testimony before Congress, detailing what had happened to her when a vehicle turned in front of her 2002 Honda Civic in September 2013. According to The Detroit News, the resulting injuries and ongoing surgeries led to a lawsuit against Honda, whose certified dealership in Destin, Fla. failed to notify Erdman of the February 2010 driver’s side airbag recall or what would happen if the airbag deployed in the wrong conditions, nor did the dealership replace the unit in question. She also feared that once the spotlight subsides on Takata et al, the problems would still be there, and urged Congress to continue to hold all accountable for their actions.

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Takata Chairman In Hiding, Mexican Plant Increasing Airbag Production http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/takata-chairman-hiding-mexican-plant-increasing-airbag-production/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/takata-chairman-hiding-mexican-plant-increasing-airbag-production/#comments Fri, 14 Nov 2014 12:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=945033 Takata’s chairman goes missing amid the company’s airbag recall crisis; the company boosts production of replacement modules at its Mexico plant; and the United States Senate plans to hold hearings regarding the airbag recalls, while also demanding a full reform of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over the agency’s role in both Takata’s and […]

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Takata Car Seats

Takata’s chairman goes missing amid the company’s airbag recall crisis; the company boosts production of replacement modules at its Mexico plant; and the United States Senate plans to hold hearings regarding the airbag recalls, while also demanding a full reform of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over the agency’s role in both Takata’s and General Motors’ respective recalls.

Autoblog reports Takata chairman and CEO Shigesha Takada — whose grandfather founded the company he currently helms — has not been seen since June of this year, giving only a published statement that Takata would work with authorities regarding the defective airbags. Takada won’t be turning up anytime soon, either; the company plans to send COO and president Stefan Stocker to an upcoming analyst briefing in place of the missing chair.

South of the border, Automotive News reports the supplier is adding two new production lines at its Monclova, Mexico facility to help boost supplies of replacement modules. The new lines are expected to go online in January, contributing to the 1.47 million units expected to ship out by February. Takata recently called upon competitors Autoliv and TRW Automotive to help with the production, though that could take months while the suppliers build, test and validate their respective contributions for use by Takata’s client base.

Over in the Beltway, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation will hold its first Takata hearing next Thursday, which will include testimony by the supplier, Honda and the NHTSA. The supplier also stated that it had received a subpoena from a federal grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, ordering it to produce documents related to the airbag recalls. This is in addition to the NHTSA’s own request for documents, which must be answered by December 1.

Speaking of the NHTSA, Edmunds reports Sens. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, and Bill Nelson of Florida sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Wednesday, urging him to initiate a full reform of the agency:

NHTSA must alter its practices to require automakers to publicly release more information about accidents that could be caused by safety defects, upgrade its own safety databases, and do a better job of enforcing compliance with transparency measures intended to provide early warnings about potentially danger defects to the public.

The senators are calling for an end to regional recalls in light of the Takata action, citing that affected vehicles could move into and out of regions where high humidity — the condition needed for catastrophic failure to occur — is prevalent, as well as for safety regulators to pull potentially dangerous vehicles “off the road,” such as those affected by the respective recalls by Toyota, General Motors and Takata.

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NHTSA Under The Gun Again Over Handling Of Takata Airbag Recall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nhtsa-gun-handling-takata-airbag-recall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nhtsa-gun-handling-takata-airbag-recall/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 12:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=936018 Not long after undergoing scrutiny over its part of the February 2014 General Motors ignition switch recall, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration once again is under the gun, this time in its handling of the Takata airbag crisis. Automotive News reports that the agency’s mostly hands-off approach, allowing automakers to use field actions to […]

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Acting NHTSA administrator David Friedman explains that General Motors will agree to a record fine of $35 million in civil penalties in Washington

Not long after undergoing scrutiny over its part of the February 2014 General Motors ignition switch recall, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration once again is under the gun, this time in its handling of the Takata airbag crisis.

Automotive News reports that the agency’s mostly hands-off approach, allowing automakers to use field actions to recall vehicles in a handful of states and territories where the possibility for catastrophic failure is greatest, is following the same track as the one that ultimately led GM to recall 2.6 million vehicles made in the early to mid-2000s, though on a greater scale.

Additionally, the NHTSA hasn’t ordered Takata itself to recall its defective airbags, mainly as it waits for more data to confirm the airbags are likely to act more like Claymores than safety devices under high humidity. In fact, the two parties entered into an agreement in June where affected automakers would conduct said field actions in only areas where those conditions are most prevalent — such as Florida and Puerto Rico, where six reports of failure were recorded. The airbags collected would then be tested, with the results sent to investigators.

As the recall widens its net further, the NHTSA is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Transportation, whose secretary, Anthony Foxx, received a letter from Senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Ed Markley of Massachusetts — both heavy critics of the NHTSA’s handling of the GM recall — urging Foxx to order the agency to be more assertive:

NHTSA should immediately issue a nationwide safety recall on all the affected cars, regardless of where the car is registered. We have become increasingly troubled and alarmed by the confusing and conflicting advice being issued by NHTSA and the glacial pace of the agency’s response to this public safety threat.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, still investigating the GM recall, is now ordering an investigation into the Takata recall.

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US House Committee Reviewing Takata Airbag Recall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/us-house-committee-reviewing-takata-airbag-recall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/us-house-committee-reviewing-takata-airbag-recall/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 14:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935402 With around 7.8 million vehicles from various automakers under recall thanks to defects in airbags supplied by Takata, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee is reviewing the proceedings. The Detroit News reports the committee requested a briefing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “on the status of the Takata recalls and the agency’s […]

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Takata Sign

With around 7.8 million vehicles from various automakers under recall thanks to defects in airbags supplied by Takata, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee is reviewing the proceedings.

The Detroit News reports the committee requested a briefing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “on the status of the Takata recalls and the agency’s investigation,” and plans to meet with automakers “to discuss supplier issues,” as well.

The recall, originally affecting 4.7 million units from six automakers, expanded Tuesday to cover 7.8 million units from 10 manufacturers. Further, the NHTSA included General Motors vehicles made in 2002 and 2003 that weren’t supposed to be on the list — they didn’t have Takata airbags — and the website meant to help consumers determine if their vehicles are affected is having issues, though the agency believes high traffic isn’t the problem.

The recall affects a handful of areas with high humidity, where the defective airbags could explode in a manner conducive to producing metal shrapnel, lacerating and/or killing all inside the cabin of the vehicle. Consumers are urged to bring in their vehicles for repair, and if parts aren’t available, will be asked to keep passengers from sitting up front until the deactivated airbag is replaced.

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Sen. Reid Calls Upon Congress To Raise EV Tax Incentives http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/sen-reid-calls-upon-congress-raise-ev-tax-incentives/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/sen-reid-calls-upon-congress-raise-ev-tax-incentives/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 10:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=922273 For the past three years, President Barack Obama has called upon Congress to raise tax incentives for electric vehicles from $7,500 to $10,000, with those calls going unanswered. This year, the top Democrat in the U.S. Senate is taking the charge. The Detroit News reports Senate Majority Leader Henry Reid of Nevada pushed Congress to […]

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Harry Reid

For the past three years, President Barack Obama has called upon Congress to raise tax incentives for electric vehicles from $7,500 to $10,000, with those calls going unanswered.

This year, the top Democrat in the U.S. Senate is taking the charge.

The Detroit News reports Senate Majority Leader Henry Reid of Nevada pushed Congress to boost the incentives — and, therefore, EV sales — proclaiming the government needed to do more to encourage sales:

In order to truly promote innovation, we must as a Congress create opportunities for consumers to invest in advanced technologies, and we haven’t done that yet. We need more tax incentives for that. In 2008, we encouraged America to invest in the growth of the electric car industry with tax credits for qualified electric vehicles.

The extra $2,500 would provide dealers an opportunity to claim credits so long as they disclosed that info to their customers, which would then give said customers a chance to claim the credits at the point of sale, instead of filing a claim with their taxes the following year.

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Howes: No Escape Yet From Recall Woes For General Motors http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/howes-escape-yet-recall-woes-general-motors/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/howes-escape-yet-recall-woes-general-motors/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 12:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=915162 After running the gauntlet of congressional hearings, numerous recalls and personnel firings under the dark cloud of scandal created in the wake of the February 2014 recall crisis, General Motors believes it’s ready to turn the page, that everything is now in the rear view. Not so fast. The Detroit News‘ own Daniel Howes states […]

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GM RenCen Storm Clouds

After running the gauntlet of congressional hearings, numerous recalls and personnel firings under the dark cloud of scandal created in the wake of the February 2014 recall crisis, General Motors believes it’s ready to turn the page, that everything is now in the rear view.

Not so fast.

The Detroit News‘ own Daniel Howes states that the next chapter of the story has just begun, with the combination of this week’s congressional hearing — where National Highway Traffic Safety Administration director David Friedman experienced the lash from the Senate Commerce Committee — and the revelation of 131 fatality claims submitted to the victim compensation plan GM hired compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg to run.

The transparency and independence granted to Feinberg — including weekly updates on the number and types of claims submitted and approved/rejected — and the open-ended nature of the fund itself as far as compensation is concerned are both likely to further dent the automaker’s reputation until the last claims are put through the paces mid-2015.

Further, with investigations by the U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission nowhere near close to completion, as well as the possibility of Attorney General Eric Holder bringing the hammer down on GM or its lower-level execs in the same manner as Toyota suffered, it may be a long time before the automaker’s reputation recovers to what it once was.

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House Dems Take Republicans To Task Over NHTSA Report http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/house-dems-take-republicans-task-nhtsa-report/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/house-dems-take-republicans-task-nhtsa-report/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 13:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=914338 In the wake of a report written by Republican members of the United States House of Representatives regarding the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration inability to find and link evidence regarding General Motors’ involvement in the design and implementation of an ignition switch now linked to 54 accidents and 19 fatalities, two Democrat members took […]

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Henry Waxman

In the wake of a report written by Republican members of the United States House of Representatives regarding the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration inability to find and link evidence regarding General Motors’ involvement in the design and implementation of an ignition switch now linked to 54 accidents and 19 fatalities, two Democrat members took the report’s authors to task.

The Detroit News reports Representatives Henry A. Waxman of California and Diana DeGette of Colorado, both members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee whose Republican majority penned the report, proclaim the report ignores GM’s role in the problems leading up to the February 2014 recall crisis that saw 2.6 million vehicles recalled in one go, placing the blame squarely upon the automaker’s shoulders.

The duo also laid criticism upon Republicans in both houses of Congress for not moving faster on legislation meant to prevent disasters like the one experienced by GM:

There is still time to improve auto safety in this country and to demand more from both car companies and regulators. Republicans should act quickly to pass legislation that solves the auto safety problems they identified in their report.

Meanwhile, Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, who had planned to bring automotive safety legislation up for consideration back in July, said he wasn’t decided on the matter. He explained that while Congress would continue to look for answers and build toward solving them, the “NHTSA was part of the problem and is going to have to be part of the solution.”

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Friedman: GM, Not NHTSA, Most To Blame For Recall Crisis http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/friedman-gm-nhtsa-blame-recall-crisis/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/friedman-gm-nhtsa-blame-recall-crisis/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 11:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=913658 It was a long day for David Friedman and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration during congressional testimony Tuesday, admitting before a Senate panel that his agency has more work to do to improve itself, and that General Motors made “incredibly poor decisions” as far as recalls were concerned. Automotive News reports Friedman and the […]

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David Friedman

It was a long day for David Friedman and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration during congressional testimony Tuesday, admitting before a Senate panel that his agency has more work to do to improve itself, and that General Motors made “incredibly poor decisions” as far as recalls were concerned.

Automotive News reports Friedman and the NHTSA came under harsh criticism before the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee’s consumer protection subcommittee during this second round of testimony. Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri made the deputy administrator aware of the panel’s overall frustration with the excuses for why the NHTSA did not act swiftly in forcing GM to recall vehicles affected by an out-of-spec ignition switch now linked to 19 deaths and 31 injuries.

In turn, Friedman deflected criticism of the agency by placing the blame upon the automaker, proclaiming the execs “were more worried about [the NHTSA] getting information about problems than they were about actually fixing problems.” He added that a “new normal” has since been established upon all automakers, whereupon any defect is immediately reported to the agency, and that it would have “zero tolerance” on those who fail “to act quickly and aggressively” on reporting such flaws.

Regarding the original case, Friedman said that his agency lacked “ample information” in 2007 to determine whether or not a defect was to be found in the aforementioned ignition switch, despite a report by a House committee issued earlier in the day stating the opposite.

After testimony, Sen. McCaskill stated she found Friedman’s statements troubling, proclaiming he was more concerned with rebutting the news media than with taking responsibility for his and his agency’s role in the GM recall crisis.

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NHTSA Returning For Second Round Of US Senate Testimony September 16 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/nhtsa-returning-second-round-us-senate-testimony-september-16/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/nhtsa-returning-second-round-us-senate-testimony-september-16/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 12:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=910674 A couple of months after General Motors CEO Mary Barra turned up inside the Beltway for a second round of testimony before the United States Senate over its part of the February 2014 ignition switch crisis, it’s now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s own second turn in the hot seat. Automotive News reports the […]

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Acting NHTSA administrator David Friedman explains that General Motors will agree to a record fine of $35 million in civil penalties in Washington

A couple of months after General Motors CEO Mary Barra turned up inside the Beltway for a second round of testimony before the United States Senate over its part of the February 2014 ignition switch crisis, it’s now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s own second turn in the hot seat.

Automotive News reports the agency, represented by administrator David Friedman, will testify before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee’s consumer protection subcommittee September 16. Committee leader Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri will examine the NHTSA’s role in the aforementioned crisis, as well as its ability to find other auto safety issues:

I’m interested in the capability NHTSA has to get at problems. They’ve obviously missed some big ones. The part of NHTSA that is responsible for monitoring issues like [GM] — they haven’t even asked for an increase in staff and cars have gotten a lot more complicated.

In addition, McCaskill will also explore safety reforms to both vehicle and highway safety legislation, a handful of which — such as increased funding to help the agency better perform its tasks, and the removal of the $35 million cap on fines for automakers who failed to properly act on a defect — haven’t gained much traction as elections take precedent in 2014.

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US-Korea Free Trade Agreement Results Darken Trans-Pacific Partnership http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/us-korea-free-trade-agreement-results-darken-trans-pacific-partnership/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/us-korea-free-trade-agreement-results-darken-trans-pacific-partnership/#comments Mon, 04 Aug 2014 12:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=881026 Two years after the Obama administration heralded its free trade deal between the United States and South Korea, the latter’s market remains relatively closed to the former’s exports. The Detroit News reports U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, chairing her first Finance Committee subcommittee on international trade, proclaimed the free trade agreement fell short of […]

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Ford Korea

Two years after the Obama administration heralded its free trade deal between the United States and South Korea, the latter’s market remains relatively closed to the former’s exports.

The Detroit News reports U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, chairing her first Finance Committee subcommittee on international trade, proclaimed the free trade agreement fell short of expectations, noting the increasing deficit between the U.S. and South Korea by 50 percent in favor of the latter party, especially regarding automotive exports:

The agreement aimed to open Korea’s markets to American automakers. But agreeing to phase-out tariffs on U.S.-made automobiles hasn’t been enough. Due to non-tariff barriers, Korea remains one of the most closed auto markets in the world.

Ford vice president for international government relations Steve Biegun, also in attendance, said his employer will sell just 7,000 units in South Korea this year after 20 years of attempts to boost sales. Biegun said access to the Korean auto market remains a challenge, citing regulatory challenges.

This comes on the heels of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which seeks to do with Japan, the United States and 10 other nations what the U.S. had sought with South Korea. Biegun, CEO Mark Fields and Chairman Bill Ford Jr. warn the deal needs increased measures to hinder Japan’s ability to influence the value of the yen, while Stabenow adds there are “outstanding disputes” on agriculture and automobiles along other “very sticky issues” between all parties involved, especially Japan.

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DOT Dozen Call For Congress To Focus On Long-Term Of Infrastructure Funding http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/dot-dozen-call-for-congress-to-focus-on-long-term-of-infrastructure-funding/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/dot-dozen-call-for-congress-to-focus-on-long-term-of-infrastructure-funding/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 10:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=874273 Alongside 11 former U.S. Department of Transportation secretaries, current secretary Anthony Foxx urged both houses of Congress to find a long-term solution to the funding of the U.S. Highway Trust Fund beyond what is under consideration at present. According to Autoblog, Foxx notes that while he and his comrades — going back 35 years and […]

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New Mexico bridge ramp construction

Alongside 11 former U.S. Department of Transportation secretaries, current secretary Anthony Foxx urged both houses of Congress to find a long-term solution to the funding of the U.S. Highway Trust Fund beyond what is under consideration at present.

According to Autoblog, Foxx notes that while he and his comrades — going back 35 years and 7 presidents in total — are hopeful the upcoming funding bill will go through, he states that the current unpredictability of the crisis-to-crisis method of governance over the past few years “is no way to run a railroad, fill a pothole, or repair a bridge.”

The DOT Dozen are calling, instead, for Congress to consider the long game regarding the nation’s infrastructure: 100 million new people and 14 billion tons of additional freight by 2050. There, they see some hope among the Beltway leadership to come up with ideas to remedy the issue, though finding consensus within the houses will take some time.

In the near term, Foxx explains that as much as $1.8 trillion will need to be spent by 2020 to bring surface infrastructure up to an adequate state, including the group of structurally deficient bridges whose number is great enough to connect Miami with Boston if laid end-to-end.

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Foxx: No Penalties Issued Within NHTSA Over GM Ignition Recall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/foxx-no-penalties-issued-within-nhtsa-over-gm-ignition-recall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/foxx-no-penalties-issued-within-nhtsa-over-gm-ignition-recall/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871434 Though General Motors gave 15 of its employees the ax over their part of the February 2014 ignition switch recall, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told those in the National Press Club Monday that no one in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was fired or disciplined over their part of the recall and subsequent […]

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Anthony Foxx + Barack Obama et al

Though General Motors gave 15 of its employees the ax over their part of the February 2014 ignition switch recall, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told those in the National Press Club Monday that no one in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was fired or disciplined over their part of the recall and subsequent fallout.

The Detroit News reports that while no one was penalized in the slightest within the agency, Foxx ordered a review on the NHTSA’s handling of the recall and other complaints:

I’ve asked our inspector general to go through and do an after-action on this GM situation to see if there is anything we didn’t do that we should have done. We will learn from that report, and until that time we have our team intact.

Foxx also defended the NHTSA in regards to the possibility of rehiring former employees who are currently working in the auto industry, proclaiming it has “ethical requirements that really guard against” undue influence in favor of the automakers.

Meanwhile, both houses of Congress are planning a second round of hearings with the agency later this year, with the goal to determine why it failed to link a series of complaints over ignition/airbag issues in Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions to the out-of-spec switch at the heart of the February 2014 recall.

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Barra Defends GM Top Lawyer In Second US Senate Hearing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/barra-defends-gm-top-lawyer-in-second-us-senate-hearing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/barra-defends-gm-top-lawyer-in-second-us-senate-hearing/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 11:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=869290 Under fire from the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee for not having fired General Motors’ top counsel Michael Millikin, CEO Mary Barra defended her decision to keep him on the company payroll during Thursday’s hearing over the February 2014 ignition recall crisis. Automotive News reports Barra believed Millikin, who has served as GM’s general counsel since […]

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General Motors CEO Mary Barra Testifies Before Senate Committee About GM's Recalls

Under fire from the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee for not having fired General Motors’ top counsel Michael Millikin, CEO Mary Barra defended her decision to keep him on the company payroll during Thursday’s hearing over the February 2014 ignition recall crisis.

Automotive News reports Barra believed Millikin, who has served as GM’s general counsel since 2009, to be “a man of incredibly high integrity” in spite of a number of his charges failing him and the automaker, five of whom were among the 15 let go from the company last month as a result of the Valukas report.

For his part, Millikin testified that he has enacted a number of changes into how his department functions, including bringing in an outside firm to review the automaker’s litigation practices, as well as bringing to his attention any lawsuits linked to a death and/or injury as a result of GM’s products. Millikin also claimed he was not aware of the issues surrounding the out-of-spec ignition switch until the February 2014 recall was issued.

Other highlights in today’s hearing include the testimony of GM supplier Delphi CEO Rodney O’Neal, proclaiming that said switch, despite being out-of-spec, “met the requirements” put forth by the automaker; Kenneth Feinberg’s testimony, where he explained to the Senate committee how he would help affected consumers find the proof needed to process a claim, as well as stating the list of eligible vehicles under the Feinberg plan was one of the few parts of the plan decided upon by GM; and consumer advocate Ralph Nader calling upon the automaker to bring aboard an independent ombudsman who could serve as a firewall from retribution for employees wanting to blow the whistle on a potential problem, then report the problems to the CEO.

The Senate committee will hold a separate hearing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over their part of the February 2014 GM ignition recall, though no date has been given thus far.

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Blumenthal, Casey Introduce Hide No Harm Act http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/blumenthal-casey-introduce-hide-no-harm-act/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/blumenthal-casey-introduce-hide-no-harm-act/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 10:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=869266 Wednesday, Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania introduced the Hide No Harm Act of 2014, which would criminalize the act of corporate concealment. Automotive News reports the act would deliver prison terms of up to five years and fines for corporate executives who know about a given product’s defects and their […]

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Sens Casey + Blumenthal

Wednesday, Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania introduced the Hide No Harm Act of 2014, which would criminalize the act of corporate concealment.

Automotive News reports the act would deliver prison terms of up to five years and fines for corporate executives who know about a given product’s defects and their potential to do harm, yet do nothing to warn their consumer base or employees.

Blumenthal noted that the act — meant to serve as a deterrent to future cases should Congress approve the bill — would not apply to the ongoing General Motors debacle, believing current criminal law was the right fit for the case.

The Hide No Harm Act of 2014 is co-sponsored Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, and provides legal protections for executives who do notify regulators and consumers about potential problems.

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Obama Talks Connected Vehicles, Highway Funding http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/obama-talks-connected-vehicles-highway-funding/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/obama-talks-connected-vehicles-highway-funding/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 10:00:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=866778 Amid touring the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Va. and having a go at a driving simulator based upon a Saturn SL, President Barack Obama talked about connected vehicles and increasing highway funding before reporters in attendance Tuesday. Autoblog and Bloomberg report the President spoke for 14 minutes on both subjects, though the majority […]

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Barack Obama + Connected Vehicles

Amid touring the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Va. and having a go at a driving simulator based upon a Saturn SL, President Barack Obama talked about connected vehicles and increasing highway funding before reporters in attendance Tuesday.

Autoblog and Bloomberg report the President spoke for 14 minutes on both subjects, though the majority of his speech focused upon the U.S. Highway Trust Fund. Obama warned that if Congress fails to come to a decision as to how the trust will be funded, 700,000 jobs and 100,000 active projects could be shuttered when the well runs dry next month. He offered some praise regarding bipartisan bills in both houses offering a solution, though Obama urged Congress to focus on the long term instead of “kicking the can down the road for a few months.”

On the connected vehicle front, he proclaimed his support for any new technology that could improve driver safety, referencing his 16-year-old daughter Malia alongside results of a study where 5.5 billion hours and $120 billion in time and fuel are lost annually due to traffic congestion. Obama also joked about his brief ride in the aforementioned simulator, finding the experience disorienting in relation to his diminishing driving experience.

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Delphi “Not A Target” Of DOJ Investigation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/delphi-not-a-target-of-doj-investigation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/delphi-not-a-target-of-doj-investigation/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 13:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=866378 Though under investigation by the Internal Revenue Service over abode issues, Delphi says it is not under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice over its part of the February 2014 General Motors ignition recall. The Detroit News reports representative Claudia Tapia confirmed a report by Reuters that her employer is “not a target,” but […]

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Delphi HQ Sign

Though under investigation by the Internal Revenue Service over abode issues, Delphi says it is not under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice over its part of the February 2014 General Motors ignition recall.

The Detroit News reports representative Claudia Tapia confirmed a report by Reuters that her employer is “not a target,” but a witness in the affair. Like GM, the supplier has been subpoenaed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, the office aided by a federal grand jury. Delphi has also turned over documents to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee as part of the latter’s own inquiry into what went wrong and when regarding the ignition switch linked to 13 fatalities, 54 accidents and 2.6 million recalled vehicles.

Later this week, Delphi CEO Rodney O’Neal will appear with GM CEO Mary Barra before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee in a second round of hearings; the committee also sent the supplier a detailed questionnaire about its role.

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General Motors Digest: July 8, 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-digest-july-8-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-digest-july-8-2014/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 13:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=861585 In today’s General Motors Digest: Replacement ignition switches are shipping to dealership service bays in boxes that may not reflect the contents inside; GM hands over 2 million documents to the United States House of Representatives; and certain truck owners are on their own as far as rusty brake lines are concerned. Automotive News reports […]

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In today’s General Motors Digest: Replacement ignition switches are shipping to dealership service bays in boxes that may not reflect the contents inside; GM hands over 2 million documents to the United States House of Representatives; and certain truck owners are on their own as far as rusty brake lines are concerned.

Automotive News reports in a June 24, 2014 memo by the automaker to its 4,300-strong dealership network, GM would be shipping the ignition switches related to the February 2014 recalls in ACDelco boxes “due to the unprecedented volume of parts being shipped and the resulting shortage of GM Parts boxes.” The memo was composed to allay doubts of authenticity that might arise when the shipments arrive. As of June 25, 2014, 296,462 of the 2.6 million vehicles affected by the recall have been repaired, while GM expects to have the parts ready for the majority of the affected by October.

Over in the Beltway, The Detroit News says the automaker has turned over 2 million pages of records in relation to the February 2014 recall to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee as part of the latter’s ongoing investigation. Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, who is in the early stages of planning an auto safety overhaul bill, states that he wants to wrap up the investigation prior to making such a bill available for consideration. In an interview with WJR-AM, Upton is considering a national registry to easily track recalled vehicles in the repair stage, as well as when affected vehicles pass into the used car market.

Finally, Bloomberg reports that while General Motors has issued recalls left and right, it has not done so with 1.8 million light trucks and SUVs made between 1999 and 2003 affected by rusting brake lines. Further, the automaker says it’s the owner’s responsibility to prevent rusting and, if need be, replace the lines with a $500 MSRP kit. The defect has hit Salt Belt owners the hardest, where failed brake lines make up 43 out of 100,000 units sold, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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General Motors Digest: July 3, 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-digest-july-3-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-digest-july-3-2014/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 13:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=858049 In today’s General Motors digest: GM recalls a recall; the automaker gains market share in spite of itself; its bankruptcy judge believes it may have committed fraud; the U.S. Senate gets ready for a second February 2014 recall hearing; and Anthony Foxx vows to keep the heat turned up on GM. Detroit Free Press reports […]

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General Motors headquarters in Detroit, Michigan

In today’s General Motors digest: GM recalls a recall; the automaker gains market share in spite of itself; its bankruptcy judge believes it may have committed fraud; the U.S. Senate gets ready for a second February 2014 recall hearing; and Anthony Foxx vows to keep the heat turned up on GM.

Detroit Free Press reports the automaker’s recall of the 2013 – 2014 Cadillac CTS over an ignition switch issue similar to the one affecting the 2010 – 2014 Chevrolet Camaro, as well as the issue that kicked off GM’s recall parade back in February, only affected 264 coupes and wagons assembled before the redesigned sedan left the factory floor; the sedan was incorrectly listed among the 8.4 million vehicles recalled worldwide Monday.

In spite of said recall parade, Automotive News says GM gained market shared in the first six months of 2014, jumping from 16.9 percent in January to 18.8 percent in June. Further, June 2014 sales climbed 1.2 percent to 1.42 million units — instead of falling 2.6 percent as some analysts had predicted — fueled by new models entering the showroom and more lease deals. In turn, the annualized selling rate rose to 16.98 million, the highest rate seen since July 2006, and one higher than 2013’s 15.9 million in the same period. GM hopes to keep up the pace by offering Cobalt owners and owners of other recalled vehicles a $500 incentive to trade-in for a certified used vehicle, and employee pricing on new models; so far, 21 percent of Cobalt owners have taken the automaker up on its offer between March and May 2014.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber, who presided over the automaker’s bankruptcy proceedings in 2009, may have to haul GM back in on fraud charges if evidence is found, pointing to then-CEO Fritz Henderson’s possible knowledge — and obfuscation — of the ignition switch problem. Should the evidence be there, Judge Gerber could force the automaker to pay billions of dollars to any of the plaintiffs in the 90-plus lawsuits now waiting for his approval to proceed, which could come as soon as September 15.

Over in the Beltway, Reuters says a consumer protection and product safety subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee will hold a second hearing on the February 2014 recall July 17, though no announcement has been made as to who will be invited to testify as of this writing.

Finally, The Detroit News reports U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration both vow to “keep putting the screws on [GM's safety efforts] until it gets right.” The agency, who is monitoring the automaker for the next three years as part of the latter’s settlement with the federal government, will look into the newest recalls to determine if GM issued them in a timely manner, though Foxx thinks the automaker is acting in good faith.

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General Motors Digest: June 27, 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/general-motors-digest-june-27-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/general-motors-digest-june-27-2014/#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 13:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=854625 In today’s General Motors digest: The automaker rescinds its stop-sale of 33,000 Chevrolet Cruzes over Takata air bag issues, recalls 29,019; Delphi turns over documents to a federal grand jury; Kenneth Feinberg’s compensation plan will be revealed Monday; and CEO Mary Barra says more recalls may be coming, but no more people will be fired […]

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Mary Barra at 2014 Detroit Auto Show

In today’s General Motors digest: The automaker rescinds its stop-sale of 33,000 Chevrolet Cruzes over Takata air bag issues, recalls 29,019; Delphi turns over documents to a federal grand jury; Kenneth Feinberg’s compensation plan will be revealed Monday; and CEO Mary Barra says more recalls may be coming, but no more people will be fired as a result of the Valukas report.

Automotive News reports GM lifted its stop-sale order of 33,000 2013 – 2014 Chevrolet Cruzes due to a defective airbag inflator found in units provided by supplier Takata once the automaker accounted for all the affected vehicles by comparing VINs to the parts list. Detroit Free Press adds GM then recalled the affected units, totaling 29,019, all of them still under its new vehicle warranty. The defect, if not treated, could result in the inflator — and the airbag unit overall — catastrophically exploding or non-deployment of the airbag in an accident.

Speaking of suppliers, The Detroit News says Delphi delivered hundreds of documents related to its part of the February 2014 ignition switch recall to the U.S. Justice Department via grand jury subpoena. The supplier also sought confidential treatment in turning over the requested documents. Meanwhile, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee made public 80 emails and other documents by the automaker and the supplier illustrating GM’s struggles with the ignition switch, painting “a disturbing and devastating picture, a beyond-worst-case systemic breakdown that led to lives needlessly lost,” according to U.S. Representatives Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania and Fred Upton of Michigan.

Automotive News reports Kenneth Feinberg, the victim-compensation expert hired by GM to compensate victims of the defective ignition switch, will announce his plan Monday at 10 a.m. in Washington, D.C. Though no dollar amount will likely be pegged in the announcement, the terms of the plan could sway victims into accepting compensation over filing a lawsuit against GM. The automaker did not provide its own estimate, as well.

Finally, Reuters reports CEO Mary Barra said during an interview with Matt Lauer on NBC’s “The Today Show” that more recalls could come down the pike, based on data received. She also commented on the Feinberg plan, stating her company wants “every single person who either lost a loved one or has a serious physical injury to be a part of that program.” Detroit Free Press adds that when Lauer asked if there would be more firings linked to the ignition switch, Barra proclaimed everyone who would be let go has been let go. She emphasized that the “silos of information” that obfuscated the issue were being torn down, with employees taking notes during safety meetings that are then presented to her for review.

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Senator Rockefeller Proposes Legislation To Strengthen NHTSA http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/senator-rockefeller-proposes-legislation-to-strengthen-nhtsa/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/senator-rockefeller-proposes-legislation-to-strengthen-nhtsa/#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 12:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=854577 Outgoing chair of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia (pictured at right) has proposed legislation that would authorize increased funding and authority to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to deal with safety defects in vehicles. Automotive News reports the bill, inspired by the February 2014 General Motors recall of […]

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Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia

Outgoing chair of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia (pictured at right) has proposed legislation that would authorize increased funding and authority to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to deal with safety defects in vehicles.

Automotive News reports the bill, inspired by the February 2014 General Motors recall of 2.6 million vehicles over an out-of-spec ignition switch linked to 54 accidents and 13 fatalities thus far, would also ban sales of used vehicles under recall until the problem is fixed or the buyer is alerted to the issue. In addition, the public would gain access to early warning reports sent by automakers to the NHTSA, a proposition made earlier this year by Sens. Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Bluementhal of Connecticut.

As for the funding component, Rockefeller proposes automakers pay a user fee based on their sales in the United States. The fee would start at $3 per vehicle sold one year after the bill becomes law, increasing by an additional $3 per year through the third year, at which point the fee would adjust with inflation on an annual basis.

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Bipartisan Senate Bill To Raise Fuel Taxes For The First Time Since 1993 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/bipartisan-senate-bill-to-raise-fuel-taxes-since-1993/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/bipartisan-senate-bill-to-raise-fuel-taxes-since-1993/#comments Thu, 19 Jun 2014 13:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=846921 For over two decades, the federal fuel tax has held at 18.4 cents for gasoline and 24.4 cents for diesel per gallon sold. A bipartisan bill working through the United States Senate could soon change this, especially as the nation’s Highway Trust Fund — used for funding infrastructure projects — comes closer to running dry […]

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gas-pump-save-ftr

For over two decades, the federal fuel tax has held at 18.4 cents for gasoline and 24.4 cents for diesel per gallon sold. A bipartisan bill working through the United States Senate could soon change this, especially as the nation’s Highway Trust Fund — used for funding infrastructure projects — comes closer to running dry by August of this year.

Reuters reports Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Chris Murphy of Connecticut want to raise both taxes by 12 cents, which would be spread out over two years prior to linking future increases to inflation. The senators also proposed tax cuts to make up for the increase, though nothing was specified at the time.

Meanwhile, some legislators want to fund the trust through a corporate offshore profit tax repatriation holiday that would resemble a 2004 proposal led by former president George W. Bush: 12 months, 85 percent deduction for dividends paid. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated the holiday would bring in $20 billion during the period, but would lead to expectations for more holidays down the road.

President Barack Obama opposes this method, believing “it would give large tax breaks to a very small number of companies that have most aggressively shifted profits, and in many cases, jobs, overseas,” according to White House representative Jay Carney.

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Barra Returns To Face Congress Post-Valukas Report http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/barra-returns-to-face-congress-post-valukas-report/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/barra-returns-to-face-congress-post-valukas-report/#comments Thu, 19 Jun 2014 10:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=846857 In today’s digest: General Motors CEO Mary Barra returns to the Beltway with Anton Valukas in tow; GM is hit with a $10 billion lawsuit; affected families appear before Barra’s testimony; and a safety group calls the Valukas report “flawed.” Automotive News reports Barra made good on her promise to return to Capitol Hill for […]

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Barra and Valukas are sworn in before House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill

In today’s digest: General Motors CEO Mary Barra returns to the Beltway with Anton Valukas in tow; GM is hit with a $10 billion lawsuit; affected families appear before Barra’s testimony; and a safety group calls the Valukas report “flawed.”

Automotive News reports Barra made good on her promise to return to Capitol Hill for a second round of Congressional hearings over the February 2014 ignition switch recall that has upended the automaker for the time being. During Wednesday’s hearing before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, she proclaimed any unexpected vehicle shutdown to now be considered a safety concern by the automaker, instead of waiting until a clear link surfaced on its own prior to action. The hearing also revealed just how much more work awaits GM in overhauling its corporate culture for the better of all, recounting a report made by an employee in 2005 about ignition switch issues in the 2006 Chevrolet Impala similar to those in the Cobalt. However, it would take until this week for a “big recall” of the mid-size sedan over the issue to occur due to the company’s widespread safety deficiencies.

Later in the hearing, former U.S. attorney Anton Valukas, hired by GM to conduct an independent internal investigation into the recall, took questions about his report. Valukas stated that while he had unfettered access to the automaker, getting through to supplier Delphi and trial lawyers leading cases against GM was easier said than done. Barra then had words about Ray DeGiorgio, the former GM engineer named repeatedly in the Valukas report for his approval of the original switch and its undocumented redesign. In short, she didn’t find DeGiorgio “credible” regarding his statements to Valukas’ team of investigators.

Finally, Barra addressed the issue of compensation for the families affected by the original recall, stating victim-compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg would have total control of the fund, and that GM will have no cap on compensation:

We want to capture every single person who suffered serious injury or lost a loved one — every single one. If the ignition switch was part of the issue, we want them in the program. We want to get everybody that’s affected.

Reuters reports GM is now under the gun of a $10 billion lawsuit filed by Hagens Berman Sobal Shapiro in federal court in Riverside, Calif. on behalf of Anna Andrews. The lawsuit calls for compensation due to lost resale value for those who owned or leased a GM vehicle between July 10, 2009 and April 1, 2014; Andrews herself claimed she would have not purchased her used 2010 Buick LaCrosse — or would have opted for a lower price — “had GM done a better job of disclosing vehicle defects.” Should all come to pass, some 15 million GM customers would receive damages whether their vehicles were recalled or not.

Detroit Free Press says the families affected by the defective switch at the heart of the February 2014 recall made an appearance alongside U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut prior to Wednesday’s hearing to help others who may have been harmed by products not under recall, and to call for quicker issuing of recalls of flawed vehicles. The families shared stories of how GM’s negligence destroyed the lives of not only those behind the wheel of the vehicles with the defect, but their lives as well. Blumenthal added that “the victims who settled should be given the opportunity to recontest their claims.”

Finally, Center for Auto Safety director Clarence Ditlow penned a letter to Valukas, stating the attorney had accepted the automaker’s defense “that its engineers and senior managers did not know” stalling in vehicles was a major safety issue, to the detriment of his report. He added that the Valukas report had omitted or missed evidence “in constructing what amounts to a corporate defense against criminal charges… that show GM at its highest levels of management considers stalling to be a safety defect.” The report said officials did not consider stalling issues in the Cobalt or Saturn Ion as a hazard until the issue was linked to the failed deployment of air bags due to a loss of power prior to an accident.

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Barra, Valukas To Meet With House Committee Next Week http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/barra-valukas-to-meet-with-house-committee-next-week/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/barra-valukas-to-meet-with-house-committee-next-week/#comments Thu, 12 Jun 2014 12:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=842946 As promised in April before both the U.S. House and Senate, General Motors CEO Mary Barra will appear next Wednesday in Washington, D.C. for a second round of congressional hearings over the February 2014 GM ignition switch recall. Automotive News reports Barra will be accompanied by former U.S. attorney Anton Valukas, who was called upon […]

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Mary Barra

As promised in April before both the U.S. House and Senate, General Motors CEO Mary Barra will appear next Wednesday in Washington, D.C. for a second round of congressional hearings over the February 2014 GM ignition switch recall.

Automotive News reports Barra will be accompanied by former U.S. attorney Anton Valukas, who was called upon by GM to independently investigate and report the findings on the how and why an out-of-spec ignition switch made at the turn of the millennium became the monster that flipped the automaker on its head nearly 14 years later. Both Barra and Valukas will meet with the House Energy and Commerce Committee to discuss the latter’s findings.

According to a statement made by GM, Barra’s visit is meant to update the committee “on the actions GM is taking in response” to the recall, including “fixing the failures identified in the Valukas report, building a culture centered on safety, quality and excellence, and doing what’s right for victims and their families.” The report cleared Barra and top execs of wrongdoing regarding the switch and recall, and proclaimed no cover-up in the matter.

The Senate Commerce Committee is still conducting its investigation into GM, but has not at this time set up an appointment with Barra and Valukas for its own hearing over the report.

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AAA: 51 Percent Surveyed Willing To Pay For Better Roads http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/aaa-51-percent-surveyed-willing-to-pay-for-better-roads/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/aaa-51-percent-surveyed-willing-to-pay-for-better-roads/#comments Thu, 12 Jun 2014 10:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=842890 As those inside the Beltway debate how best to fund their responsibility for the nation’s transportation infrastructure, a AAA study finds most Americans would pay more taxes for better roads. Autoblog reports 67 percent of the 2,013 surveyed by AAA want the federal government to get it together and put more money into maintenance, with […]

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Carmageddon

As those inside the Beltway debate how best to fund their responsibility for the nation’s transportation infrastructure, a AAA study finds most Americans would pay more taxes for better roads.

Autoblog reports 67 percent of the 2,013 surveyed by AAA want the federal government to get it together and put more money into maintenance, with 52 percent in support of an increase in fuel taxes. Further, 51 percent surveyed would go as far as supporting a candidate who would support increases in funding for road maintenance and construction.

AAA CEO and president Bob Darbelnet added that many Americans were “willing to pay a little more” in taxes if the result led to “better roads, bridges and transit systems,” having become “fed up with record-long commutes, unsafe highways and never-ending potholes caused by political inaction.” In turn, the organization claims drivers would save $324 annually on road-related repairs for their vehicles.

AAA’s call to action comes under the potential threat of road work delays when the Highway Trust Fund — whose replenishment depends on the 18.3-cent/gallon gasoline and 22.4-cent/gallon diesel taxes that last saw an increase over 20 years ago — runs out of funds sometime this August. The Obama administration and a few members of Congress have offered solutions to the funding problem, but nothing more as come of them thus far.

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Barra: “Nobody Took Responsibility” For Defective Ignition Switch http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/barra-nobody-took-responsibility-for-defective-ignition-switch/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/barra-nobody-took-responsibility-for-defective-ignition-switch/#comments Fri, 06 Jun 2014 10:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=838321 Automotive News reports General Motors CEO Mary Barra delivered a 15-minute blistering speech before those in attendance and online regarding the Valukas report, which detailed the how and why a defective ignition switch first brought to life in 2001 led to the February 2014 recall of 2.6 million vehicles so equipped and the firestorm that […]

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Mary Barra at 2014 Detroit Auto Show

Automotive News reports General Motors CEO Mary Barra delivered a 15-minute blistering speech before those in attendance and online regarding the Valukas report, which detailed the how and why a defective ignition switch first brought to life in 2001 led to the February 2014 recall of 2.6 million vehicles so equipped and the firestorm that followed. In her words, “nobody took responsibility” for the problems, that “there was no demonstrated sense of urgency” during the time period to fix the problems that still haunt the automaker. Barra added that she would never put the recall crisis behind GM, to “keep this painful experience” permanently upon the head of the corporation so as nothing like this would ever occur once more. At the end, she proclaimed her belief in GM and its employees in being able to face “the truth” about itself, and that the General overall was better than its previous actions.

After Barra dropped the mic, the automaker announced 15 individuals with ties to the ignition switch recall were fired. Of those no longer employed, seven have been identified thus far:

  • Ray DeGiorgio: Engineer
  • Mike Robinson: Vice president of sustainability and global regulatory affairs
  • Gay Kent: General director of vehicle safety
  • Carmen Benavides: Director of field product investigations
  • William Kemp: Senior lawyer, safety
  • Gary Altman: Program engineering manager
  • Lawrence Buonomo: Senior lawyer, product liability

The remaining eight have yet to be named as of this writing.

Over in the Beltway, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce and U.S. Senate Commerce committees have called Barra and Anton Valukas for the second round of testimonies the former promised would occur once the independent investigation led by Valukas released its findings to the public. Representative Fred Upton of Michigan and Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, both chairs of their respective committees, both noted it would take time to go over the report before drawing their conclusions. McCaskill warned that she would not allow “GM leadership, or federal regulators, escape accountability” over the recall and the 47 accidents — including 13 fatalities thus far — linked to it.

Finally, Barra warned the recall parade that began in February would likely continue “in the near term,” abating “to historical levels, or slightly higher” as claimed by CFO Chuck Stevens in the conference call with analysts following Barra’s speech. She also promised that GM’s recall efforts would become “the new norm” for the automaker as it follows the CEO’s focus on customer safety.

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